Vintage Keyboard Instruments

Great Electronic Keyboard Players

Herbie Hancock
Joe Zawinul
Bernie Worrell
Brian Eno
Peter Gabriel
Keith Emerson
Chick Corea
Sly Stone
John Medeski
Liam Howlett
Stevie Wonder
Thomas Dolby
Steve Winwood

Electronic Music Guide

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Liam Howlett : The Prodigy

Great Electronic Keyboard Players

Liam Howlett: The Prodigy

The Prodigy navigated the high-wire, balancing artistic merit and mainstream visibility with more flair than any electronica act of the 1990s. Ably defeating the image-unconscious attitude of most electronic artists in favor of a focus on nominal frontman Keith Flint, the group crossed over to the mainstream of pop music with an incendiary live experience that approximated the original atmosphere of the British rave scene even while leaning uncomfortably close to arena-rock showmanship and punk theatrics. True, Flint's spiky hairstyle and numerous piercings often made for better advertising, but it was producer Liam Howlett whose studio wizardry launched the Prodigy to the top of the charts, spinning a web of hard-hitting breakbeat techno with king-sized hooks and unmissable samples. Despite electronic music's diversity and quick progression during the 1990s -- from rave/hardcore to ambient/downtempo and back again, thanks to the breakbeat/drum'n'bass movement -- Howlett modified the Prodigy's sound only sparingly; swapping the rave-whistle effects and ragga samples for metal chords and chanted vocals proved the only major difference in the band's evolution from their debut to their worldwide breakthrough with their third album The Fat of the Land. Even before the band took its place as the premiere dance act for the alternative masses, the Prodigy had proved a consistent entry in the British charts, with over a dozen consecutive singles in the Top 20.

Howlett, the prodigy behind the group's name, was trained on the piano while growing up in Braintree, Essex. He began listening to hip-hop in the mid-'80s and later DJed with the British rap act Cut to Kill before moving on to acid house later in the decade. The fledgling hardcore breakbeat sound was perfect for an old hip-hop fan fluent in up-tempo dance music, and Howlett began producing tracks in his bedroom studio during 1988. His first release, the EP What Evil Lurks, became a major mover on the fledgling rave scene in 1990. After Howlett met up with Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill (both Essex natives as well) in the growing British rave scene, the trio formed the Prodigy later that year. Howlett's recordings gained the trio a contract with XL Records, which re-released What Evil Lurks in February 1991.

Six months later, Howlett issued his second single "Charly," built around a sample from a children's public-service announcement. It hit number one on the British dance charts, then crossed over to the pop charts, stalling only at number three. (It wasn't long before a copycat craze saw the launch of rave takeoffs on Speed Racer, The Magic Roundabout and Sesame Street) Two additional Prodigy singles, "Everybody in the Place" and "Fire/Jericho," charted in the U.K. during late 1991 and early 1992.

The Prodigy showed they were no one-anthem wonders in late 1992, with the release of The Prodigy Experience, one of the first LPs by a rave act. Mixing chunky breakbeats with vocal samples from dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, it hit the Top Ten and easily went gold. During 1993, Howlett added a ragga/hip-hop MC named Maxim Reality (Keeti Palmer) and occupied himself with remix work for Front 242, Jesus Jones and Art of Noise. He also released the white-label single "Earthbound" to fool image-conscious DJs who had written off the Prodigy as hopelessly commercial. Late 1993 brought the commercial release of "Earthbound" (as the group's seventh consecutive Top 20 singles entry, "One Love").

After several months of working on tracks, Howlett issued the next Prodigy single, "No Good (Start the Dance)." Despite the fact that the single's hook was a sped-up diva-vocal tag (an early rave staple), the following album Music for the Jilted Generation provided a transition for the group, from piano pieces and rave-signal tracks to more guitar-integrated singles like "Voodoo People." The album also continued Prodigy's allegiance to breakbeat drum'n'bass; though the style had only recently become commercially viable (after a long gestation period in the dance underground), Howlett had been incorporating it from the beginning of his career. Music for the Jilted Generation entered the British charts at number one and went gold in its first week of release. The album was also nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, as one of the best albums of the year.

The Prodigy spent much of 1994 and 1995 touring around the world, and made a splashy appearance at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, proving that electronica could make it in a live venue. The group had already made a transition from the club/rave circuit to more traditional rock venues, and the Glastonbury show set in stone the fact that they were no longer just a dance group. Flint's newly emerged persona -- the consummate in-your-face punk showman and master of ceremonies for the digital-age crowd -- provided a point of reference for rock critics uncomfortable covering Howlett (whom they saw as a glorified keyboard player).

The Prodigy's incessant road schedule left little time to record, but Howlett managed to bring out the next new Prodigy single in March 1996. "Firestarter" entered the British charts at number one, though the video was almost banned due to complaints about arson fixation; many Top of the Pops viewers also complained that Keith Flint had scared their children. An unmissable guitar hook and Flint's catcall vocal antics -- his first on record -- made it a quick worldwide hit and though "Firestarter" wasn't a major success in the U.S., its high-profile spot in MTV's Buzz Bin introduced the Prodigy to many Americans and helped fuel the major-label push for electronica during the following year (though the Prodigy did reject collaborative offers from David Bowie, U2 and Madonna). In the middle of the electronica buzz, the Prodigy dropped their third album, The Fat of the Land. Despite rather obvious attempts to court mainstream rock fans (including several guest-vocalist spots and an L7 cover), the LP entered both British and American charts at number one, shifting several million units worldwide. The next Prodigy full-length was 1999's The Dirtchamber Sessions, a mix album helmed by Howlett.

The "Baby's Got a Temper" single -- one Howlett would later disown -- appeared in 2002 and soon after Leeroy Thornhill left the band. Maxim and Keith Flint were still in the band but they weren't to be found on 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Instead the album featured guest spots from Oasis' Liam Gallagher, Kool Keith, Twista, and actress Juliette Lewis. Flint and Maxim did join Howlett for a worldwide tour to support the album that launched in October 2004. A year later Their Law: Singles compiled the big hits.--
Bio Courtesy of

Vist the official Prodigy web site

Music For The Jilted Generation
Easily the best Prodigy album out there, and that's really saying something. All of the tracks are based in energetic hardcore techno, but there's an incredible amount of variety here. Everything from metal guitars ("Their Law") to shattering glass ("Break and Enter") is used as a sample, and all are used effectively. The album doesn't have a single weak track on it, but the true highlights are the singles. "Poison" is probably the darkest track the Prodigy's ever done (**including** "Firestarter" and "Breathe") and it's great. "One Love" sounds a lot like an older rave track, but it works really well and doesn't overstay its welcome. "Voodoo People" uses LIVE guitars and flutes in a breakbeat track that will get you moving like no other. Then there's my favorite: "No Good (Start The Dance)" which pastes together a sped-up soul vocal and a ridiculously intense beat. It'll leave you gasping for air, but in a good way.
What else can I say? The music's the best that the band's ever made, and there really isn't a downside. Even the artwork's a lot of fun. Pick this up as soon as you can - you won't be disappointed. -- littleoldme
The Fat of The Land
An album even the technophobic couldn't ignore, The Fat of the Land made Prodigy one of the first U.K. rave acts to infiltrate pop culture. Hard-core hip-hop-derived breakbeats, layers of unabashed (but creative) sampling, and meaningless shouted lyrics struck a chord beyond the electronic-music community. The inclusion of "Firestarter" and "Breathe" (both previously released hit singles) certainly aided the disc's widespread success, but it was the ferocity (and controversy) of "Smack My Bitch Up" that caught the world's attention. Guest Shahin Bada's Indian vocalizations convey the sense that dance music has come a long way from "Pump Up the Volume"! "Diesel Power," featuring Kool Keith, and "Funky Shit" set a wicked groove; the cover of L7's "Fuel My Fire" recalls the energy of the Sex Pistols. In fact, the dark aggression of The Fat of the Land bears closer resemblance to both rap and punk than the hedonism of techno. Leader Liam Howett simply gives up 10 solid songs with bombastic production values, transforming dance music into the art of noise. --Lisa Ladouceur
Check out The Prodigy Live playing "Firestarter".

If you are a Prodigy fan then perhaps you will enjoy one of my CDs as well.
The music is keyboard driven electronica...but not quite as aggressive as The Prodigy

Innocent Bystander is my alter ego of hardcore funky electronica. Released in 2000, this CD was featured prominently in MTV Road Rules.

The music infuses elements of Drum-n-Bass, Techno, Reggae, and Funk all with a unifying B-3 organ throughout. Innocent Bystander transcends the space time continuum from 70's funk to the new millennium by perfectly melding the computerized sounds of the new electronica with the raw human feel of old school soul and funk.
It's as if Sly Stone and Jimmy Smith were genetically combined with the Chemical Brothers and Fat Boy Slim! There is even a cover of Sly Stone's "Sing A Simple Song". The result is music for your mind and your ass. It's Medeski, Martin, and Wood on a futuristic tour around Jupiter.

The Satellite Orchestra is the latest project from Los Angeles keyboardist Rodney Lee. The music is a cinematic journey into soulful live electronica with Lee navigating from a Fender Rhodes electric piano. The CD was released in Sept. 2006 and features Rico Belled on bass, Allen Lightner on percussion, Dino Soldo on bass clarinet and flutes, Dave Karasony on Drums, and vocalists Jody Watley, Jeff Robinson, and Wade3.
The Satellite Orchestra is like a chance meeting of Massive Attack, Zero-7, and Herbie Hancock.

" I have always believed that an album is a trip..not just music to wash the dishes to, but a place to go.. a journey to take.. an album goes to a place in your soul that maybe you forgot was there...or maybe you never discovered.. The Satellite Orchestra is such an's music you feel...make sure to bring your headphones." -DJ Jedi

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